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Felony fight over duck feeding latest 'Stand Your Ground' case

Man who fed ducklings says he's been wrongfully charged with battery

DAVIE, Fla. – When animal lover Quinten Putnam fed a mother duck and her ducklings in front of his home in Davie, he said he never imagined it would lead to violence and ruin his life.

"My life is crumbling, it's falling apart in from my face," Putnam said. "Because I had some compassion and I wanted to show a little kindness to a little family -- a mother and her baby ducks, this is what happens."

What happened was Putnam's arrest for felony battery on a person over the age of 65 after his neighbor, David Lawn, took issue with his feeding the family of Muscovy ducks, which are not indigenous to South Florida and widely considered nuisances.

Though it was an admittedly angry Lawn who confronted Putnam and both men suffered minor head injuries, Davie police allege that it was Putnam who initiated the physical altercation.

"I didn't think I was going to get in a fight over ducks that afternoon," Putnam, 56, said. "It was the last thing on my mind."

Putnam swears that it was an expletive-hurling and angry Lawn who first attacked him. He said Lawn came at him and that the two fell to the pavement, causing scrapes to Putnam's head.

"We scuffled a little bit and he tripped me from behind and I fell on my face," Putnam said.

He said only then did he strike Lawn in order to "get control of the situation."

But Lawn, who refused to comment, saying the criminal case was "none of anybody's business," told police that after he confronted Putnam for feeding the ducks, which he complained defecate on his driveway, Putnam became "enraged."

"He threw his arms up and he says, 'You want to go down?'" Lawn told police. "And he came running out to the middle of the street. So I stepped out to the street and he attacked me, threw me down."

One witness, Sandra Eppler, also told police that it was Putnam who initially "jumped" on Lawn. But in a later deposition, she admitted that she didn't see who actually started the fight.

"I just saw Quinten hitting Dave," she said. "I don’t know if Davie did anything first."

Putnam and Assistant Public Defender Alexia Hudson argued a Stand Your Ground defense in a recent court hearing and Judge Raag Singhal is expected to rule on it Jan. 13.

"If somebody comes at you and attacks you, you have a right to defend yourself," Putnam said.

He said his life has come unraveled since the arrest, which he said is the first time in his life he's ever been charged with any crime.

He said he was promised a job in Oregon and drove his three cats all the way from Florida (he had to leave his three pet birds with a friend) before he learned that the felony charge held up his employment.

He said he has been unable to pay his bills for the past five months and faces eviction. His electricity has been turned off because he couldn't afford to pay that bill either.

"It's like sleeping in an oven every night," he said. "I'm facing eviction. I have no place to go. The only thing that's getting me through it is my birds and my cats. I have to be strong for them right now."